The Court of Appeal has held (subject to any appeal to the Supreme Court) that it is not sex discrimination to offer enhanced maternity pay without offering enhanced pay for shared parental leave.
The employment tribunal had held that the father taking Shared Parental Leave wished to perform the same role as the equivalent female employee on maternity leave, namely caring for his child, so that there was no material difference between a man and a woman.
The Court of Appeal disagreed. It said the predominant purpose of maternity leave is not childcare but other matters exclusive to the birth mother resulting from pregnancy and childbirth and not shared by the husband or partner.
The court therefore rejected a claim for direct discrimination. It also held that equal pay and indirect discrimination claims could not be made.
It remains to be seen whether the case is appealed to the Supreme Court.
It may still be unlawful sex discrimination if the employer discriminates within shared parental pay, namely offering enhanced shared parental pay to women but only the statutory amount to men.
The case is Ali v Capita www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/900.html